Connect with us

Latest

Sudan’s truce falters, as Egypt repatriates army personnel

Avatar photo

Published

on

Sudan’s truce falters, as Egypt repatriates army personnel

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan’s military ruled out negotiations with a rival paramilitary force on Thursday, saying it would only accept its surrender as the two sides continued to battle in central Khartoum and other parts of the country, threatening to wreck international attempts to broker a longer cease-fire.

A tenuous 24-hour cease-fire that began the previous day ran out Thursday evening with no word of an extension. The military’s statement raised the likelihood of a renewed surge in the nearly weeklong violence that has killed hundreds and pushed Sudan’s population to the breaking point. Alarm has grown that the country’s medical system was on the verge of collapse, with many hospitals forced to shut down and others running out of supplies.

The truce had failed to put a stop to fighting throughout the day and brought only marginal calm to some parts of the capital, Khartoum. But many residents took advantage to flee the homes where they have been trapped for days. “Massive numbers” of people, mostly women and children, were leaving in search of safer areas, said Atiya Abdulla Atiya, secretary of the Doctors’ Syndicate.

Thursday afternoon, the military said in a statement that it would not negotiate with its rival, the Rapid Support Forces, and would only discuss the terms of its surrender. “There would be no armed forces outside (of) the military system,” it said.

The demise of the truce, the second attempt this week, underscored the failure of the United States, U.N., European Union and regional powers to push Sudan’s top generals to halt their campaigns to seize control of the country. Instead, army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and RSF commander Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo each appear determined to win outright military victory over the other.

In a sign they expect violence to escalate, the U.S. and other countries were making preparations to evacuate their citizens in Sudan — a difficult prospect since most major airports have become battlegrounds and movement out of Khartoum to safer areas is dangerous.

The U.S. military is moving assets to a base in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti for a possible evacuation of American Embassy personnel, administration officials said. Japan plans to send military planes to Djibouti, and the Netherlands has dispatched its own to Jordan.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres appealed for the combatants to commit to a three-day cease-fire to coincide with the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, beginning Friday, marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. “We are living a very important moment in the Muslim calendar. I think this is the right moment for a cease-fire to hold,” he told reporters.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

But so far direct communications to the rival generals by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Turkish president and others over the past days have been unable to secure even 24 hours of calm, much less a longer truce or negotiations to resolve the crisis. Each side’s main regional allies, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, have called in vain for talks.

At least 330 people have been killed and 3,300 wounded in the fighting since it began Saturday, the World Health Organization said, but the toll is likely higher because many bodies lie uncollected in the streets.

Through the day Thursday, gunfire could be heard constantly across Khartoum. Residents reported the heaviest fighting around the main military headquarters in central Khartoum. Military warplanes struck RSF positions at the airport and in the neighboring city of Omdurman, residents said. The military said its warplanes also struck a convoy of RSF vehicles heading to the capital, though the claim could not be independently confirmed.

Khartoum residents have been desperate for a respite after days of being trapped in their homes, with food and water running out.

Aid groups have been unable to deliver help to Sudan’s overwhelmed hospitals, Atiya said. Hospitals in Khartoum are running dangerously low on medical supplies, often operating without power and clean water. Around 70% of hospitals throughout the country are out of service because of the fighting, the Sudanese Doctors Syndicate said, adding that at least nine hospitals were bombed.

The two sides are battling elsewhere in the country as well, and there were reports of heavy fighting in the city of Obeid, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) southwest of Khartoum.

The Doctors’ Syndicate said at least 26 civilians and 17 police were killed in Obeid, and that four hospitals and a church were damaged, some by airstrikes. Two markets were looted, and more than 3,300 people fled their homes, with many sheltering in a school and a sports facility, it said.

The fighting has been disastrous for a country where the United Nations says around a third of the population — some 16 million people — are in need of humanitarian aid. The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF warned that critical care has been disrupted for 50,000 severely acutely malnourished children, who need round-the-clock treatment.

Save the Children said power outages across the country have destroyed cold chain storage facilities for lifesaving vaccines, as well as the national stock of insulin and several antibiotics. Millions of children, the aid group said, are now at risk of disease and further health complications. It said 12% of the country’s 22 million children are suffering from malnutrition and are vulnerable to other diseases.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The Egyptian and Sudanese militaries said that Egypt succeeded in repatriating dozens of its military personnel who had been detained by the RSF when it attacked Merowe airport, north of the capital, early in the fighting. Egypt said its personnel were there for training and joint exercises.

The conflict has once again derailed Sudan’s attempt to establish democratic rule after a popular uprising helped depose long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir four years ago. Burhan and Dagalo jointly carried out a coup purging civilians from a transitional government in 2021.

The explosion of violence came after weeks of growing tensions between the two generals over a new international push for a return to civilian government.

Both sides have a long history of human rights abuses. The RSF was born out of the Janjaweed militias, which were accused of widespread atrocities when the government deployed them to put down a rebellion in Sudan’s western Darfur region in the early 2000s.

The conflict has raised fears of a spillover from the strategically located nation to its African neighbors.

Sudan’s fighting has caused up to 20,000 Sudanese to seek refuge in eastern Chad, the U.N. said Thursday. At least 320 Sudanese soldiers fled to Chad, where they were disarmed, said Daoud Yaya Brahim, Chad’s defense minister. The troops were apparently fleeing from Darfur, where the RSF is the most powerful armed force.

“Chad is for the moment trying to remain neutral … (but) Chad will be forced to pick sides if Sudan continues its descent into civil war,” said Benjamin Hunger, Africa analyst for Verisk Maplecroft, a risk assessment firm. ___ Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press correspondent Fay Abuelgasim in Beirut contributed to this report.

Read More

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Latest

Beryl forecast to become ‘dangerous’ Category 4 hurricane

Avatar photo

Published

on

Beryl forecast to become ‘dangerous’ Category 4 hurricane

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hurricane Beryl was closing in on the southeastern Caribbean, and government officials late Sunday pleaded with people to take shelter from the dangerous Category 3 storm.

The storm was expected to make landfall in the Windward Islands on Monday morning. Hurricane warnings were in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” warned the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, saying Beryl was “forecast to bring life-threatening winds and storm surge.”

Beryl was centered about 110 miles (175 kilometers) south-southeast of Barbados early Monday. It had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph) and was moving west at 20 mph (31 kph). It is a compact storm, with hurricane-force winds extending 30 miles (45 kilometers) from its center.

It had gained Category 4 strength Sunday before weakening slightly, and further fluctuations in strength were forecast.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for Martinique and Trinidad. A tropical storm watch was issued for Dominica, Haiti’s entire southern coast, and from Punta Palenque in the Dominican Republic west to the border with Haiti.

Beryl was expected to pass just south of Barbados early Monday and then head into the Caribbean Sea as a major hurricane on a path toward Jamaica. It was forecast to weaken by midweek, but still remain a hurricane while heading toward Mexico.

Historic hurricane

Beryl initially strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane Sunday morning, becoming the first major hurricane east of the Lesser Antilles on record for June, according to Philip Klotzbach, Colorado State University hurricane researcher.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

It took Beryl only 42 hours to strengthen from a tropical depression to a major hurricane — a feat accomplished only six other times in Atlantic hurricane history, and with Sept. 1 as the previous earliest date, hurricane expert Sam Lillo said.

 

 

People disassemble a beach bar's awning in preparation for Hurricane Beryl, in Bridgetown, Barbados, Sunday, June 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

 

People disassemble a beach bar’s awning in preparation for Hurricane Beryl, in Bridgetown, Barbados, Sunday, June 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

 

Beryl then gained more power, becoming the earliest Category 4 Atlantic hurricane on record, besting Hurricane Dennis, which became a Category 4 storm on July 8, 2005, hurricane specialist and storm surge expert Michael Lowry said.

“Beryl is an extremely dangerous and rare hurricane for this time of year in this area,” Lowry said in a phone interview. “Unusual is an understatement. Beryl is already a historic hurricane and it hasn’t struck yet.”

Hurricane Ivan in 2004 was the last strong hurricane to hit the southeastern Caribbean, causing catastrophic damage in Grenada as a Category 3 storm.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“So this is a serious threat, a very serious threat,” Lowry said of Beryl.

Reecia Marshall, who lives in Grenada, was working a Sunday shift at a local hotel, preparing guests and urging them to stay away from windows as she stored enough food and water for everyone.

She said that she was a child when Hurricane Ivan struck and that she doesn’t fear Beryl.

“I know it’s part of nature. I’m OK with it,” she said. “We just have to live with it.”

Forecasters warned of a life-threatening storm surge of up to 9 feet (3 meters) in areas where Beryl makes landfall, with 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15 centimeters) of rain for Barbados and nearby islands and possibly 10 inches in some areas (25 centimeters).

Warm waters are fueling Beryl, with ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic the highest on record for this time of year, said Brian McNoldy, a tropical meteorology researcher at the University of Miami.

Lowry said the waters are now warmer than they would be at the peak of the hurricane season in September.

Beryl marks the farthest east that a hurricane has formed in the tropical Atlantic in June, breaking a record set in 1933, according to Klotzbach.

“Please take this very seriously and prepare yourselves,” said Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “This is a terrible hurricane.”

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Bracing for the storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costumers purchase groceries ahead of Hurricane Beryl in Arnos Vale, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sunday, June 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre)

 

Costumers purchase groceries ahead of Hurricane Beryl in Arnos Vale, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sunday, June 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre)
Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

Long lines formed at gas stations and grocery stores in Barbados and other islands as people rushed to prepare for a storm that rapidly intensified.

Thousands of people were in Barbados for Saturday’s Twenty20 World Cup final, cricket’s biggest event, with Prime Minister Mia Mottley noting that not all fans were able to leave Sunday despite many rushing to change their flights.

“Some of them have never gone through a storm before,” she said. “We have plans to take care of them.”

Mottley said all businesses should close by Sunday evening and warned that the airport would close by nighttime.

Across Barbados, people prepared, including Peter Corbin, 71, who helped his son put up plywood to protect his home’s glass doors. He said by phone that he worried about Beryl’s impact on islands just east of Barbados.

“That’s like a butcher cutting up a pig,” he said. “They’ve got to make a bunker somewhere. It’s going to be tough.”

In St. Lucia, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre announced a national shutdown for Sunday evening and said schools and businesses would remain closed Monday.

“Preservation and protection of life is a priority,” he said.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Looking ahead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Beryl's winds batter Carlisle Bay in Bridgetown, Barbados, Monday, July 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

 

Hurricane Beryl’s winds batter Carlisle Bay in Bridgetown, Barbados, Monday, July 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

Caribbean leaders were preparing not only for Beryl, but for a cluster of thunderstorms trailing the hurricane that had a 70% chance of becoming a tropical depression.

“Do not let your guard down,” Mottley said.

Beryl is the second named storm in what is forecast to be an above-average hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 in the Atlantic. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Alberto came ashore in northeastern Mexico with heavy rains that resulted in four deaths.

On Sunday evening, a tropical depression formed near the eastern Mexico coastal city of Veracruz, with the National Hurricane Center warning of flooding and mudslides.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the 2024 hurricane season is likely to be well above average, with between 17 and 25 named storms. The forecast calls for as many as 13 hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms, seven of them hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Read More

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Continue Reading

Latest

Judge acquits 28 people accused in Panama Papers case, including law firm co-founder

Avatar photo

Published

on

Judge acquits 28 people accused in Panama Papers case, including law firm co-founder

PANAMA CITY (AP) — A judge has acquitted 28 people accused of money laundering in an international case known as the Panama Papers, including the co-founder of a law firm that authorities say was at the center of a conspiracy to hide money linked to illegal activities.

Jürgen Mossack founded Mossack & Fonseca with then associate Ramón Fonseca, who died in May. Mossack was acquitted on Friday along with others after a Panamanian judge found that the evidence against Mossack didn’t comply with the chain of custody after authorities raided the office of the now defunct firm.

Prosecutors had accused Mossack, Fonseca and others of creating offshore companies and using complex transactions to hide money from illegal activities related to the so-called car wash corruption scandal involving Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, which pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to a charge related to using shell companies to hide millions of dollars in bribes paid worldwide to win public contracts.

The judge noted that other evidence in the Panama Papers case “was not sufficient and conclusive to determine the criminal responsibility of the accused.”

In addition, the judge lifted personal and property precautionary measures against all the defendants, according to a judicial statement.

“We feel satisfied in the midst of mixed emotions, because many lives were affected along the way,” Guillermina Mc Donald, who was the defense attorney for Mossack and Fonseca, told The Associated Press. Her firm also represented 80% of the accused firm’s collaborators.

Judge Balaoisa Marquínez had decided to combine the Panama Papers case with another known as “Operation Car Wash,” a major anti-corruption investigation that began in Brazil.

On Friday, she ruled that in the car wash case, “it was not possible to determine the entry of money from illicit sources, coming from Brazil, into the Panamanian financial system with the purpose of hiding, concealing, disguising or helping to evade the legal consequences of the preceding crime.”

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

In June 2022, Mossack, Fonseca and 37 other people were acquitted in a separate money laundering case.

The investigation in Brazil began in 2014, with the Mossack & Fonseca firm later coming under scrutiny after 11 million financial documents tied to the company were leaked.

The repercussions of the leak were widespread: it led to the resignation of a prime minister in Iceland and brought scrutiny to now former leaders of Argentina and Ukraine, Chinese politicians and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others.

Read More

Continue Reading

Latest

A San Francisco store is shipping LGBTQ+ books to states where they are banned

Avatar photo

Published

on

A San Francisco store is shipping LGBTQ+ books to states where they are banned

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In an increasingly divisive political sphere, Becka Robbins focuses on what she knows best — books.

Operating out of a tiny room in Fabulosa Books in San Francisco’s Castro District, one of the oldest gay neighborhoods in the United States, Robbins uses donations from customers to ship boxes of books across the country to groups that want them.

In an effort she calls “Books Not Bans,” she sends titles about queer history, sexuality, romance and more — many of which are increasingly hard to come by in the face of a rapidly growing movement by conservative advocacy groups and lawmakers to ban them from public schools and libraries.

“The book bans are awful, the attempt at erasure,” Robbins said. She asked herself how she could get these books into the hands of the people who need them the most.

Beginning last May, she started raising money and looking for recipients. Her books have gone to places like a pride center in west Texas and an LGBTQ-friendly high school in Alabama.

Customers are especially enthusiastic about helping Robbins send books to places in states like Florida, Texas and Oklahoma, often writing notes of support to include in the packages. Over 40% of all book bans from July 2022 to June 2023 were in Florida, more than any other state. Behind Florida are Texas and Missouri, according to a report by PEN America, a nonprofit literature advocacy group.

Book bans and attempted bans have been hitting record highs, according to the American Library Association. And the efforts now extend as much to public libraries as school libraries. Because the totals are based on media accounts and reports submitted by librarians, the association regards its numbers as snapshots, with many bans left unrecorded.

PEN America’s report said 30% of the bans include characters of color or discuss race and racism, and 30% have LGBTQ+ characters or themes.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The most sweeping challenges often originate with conservative organizations, such as Moms for Liberty, which has organized banning efforts nationwide and called for more parental control over books available to children.

Moms for Liberty is not anti-LGBTQ+, co-founder Tiffany Justice has told The Associated Press. But about 38% of book challenges that “directly originated” from the group have LGBTQ+ themes, according to the library association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Justice said Moms for Liberty challenges books that are sexually explicit, not because they cover LGBTQ+ topics.

Among those topping banned lists have been Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer,” George Johnson’s “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

An LGBTQ+ related book is seen on display at Fabulosa Books, in the Castro District of San Francisco on Thursday, June 27, 2024.

 

An LGBTQ+ related book is seen on display at Fabulosa Books, in the Castro District of San Francisco on Thursday, June 27, 2024. “Books Not Bans” is a program initiated and sponsored by the store that sends boxes of LGBTQ+ books to LGBTQ+ organizations in conservative parts of America where politicians are demonizing and banning books with LGBTQ+ affirming content. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

 

Robbins said it’s more important than ever to makes these kinds of books available to everyone.

“Fiction teaches us how to dream,” Robbins said. “It teaches us how to connect with people who are not like ourselves, it teaches us how to listen and emphasize.”

She’s sent 740 books so far, with each box worth $300 to $400, depending on the titles.

At the new Rose Dynasty Center in Lakeland, Florida, the books donated by Fabulosa are already on the shelves, said Jason DeShazo, a drag queen known as Momma Ashley Rose who runs the LGBTQ+ community center.

 
Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becka Robbins, events manager and founder of the

 

Becka Robbins, events manager and founder of the “Books Not Bans” program at Fabulosa Books, packs up LGBTQ+ books to be sent to parts of the country where they are censored on Thursday, June 27, 2024 at the Castro District of San Francisco. The bookstore is sending LGBTQ+ books to where they are censored to counter the rapidly growing effort by anti-LGBTQ+ activists and lawmakers to ban queer-friendly books from public schools and libraries. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

DeShazo is a family-friendly drag performer and has long hosted drag story times to promote literacy. He uses puppets to address themes of being kind, dealing with bullies and giving back to the community.

DeShazo hopes to provide a safe space for events, support groups and health clinics, and to build a library of banned books.

“I don’t think a person of color should have to search so hard for an amazing book about history of what our Black community has gone through,” DeShazo said. “Or for someone who is queer to find a book that represents them.”

Robbins’ favorite books to send are youth adult queer romances, a rapidly growing genre as conversations about LGBTQ+ issues have become much more mainstream than a decade ago.

“The characters are just like regular kids — regular people who are also queer, but they also get to fall in love and be happy,” Robbins said.

_____

Ding reported from Los Angeles.

Read More

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Continue Reading